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Interview:
Touring with Mavis Staples is dream come true for Joan Osborne
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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For Joan Osborne, this fall's Solid Soul Tour with R&B and gospel icon Mavis Staples is nothing short of a dream come true.

"Mavis is my idol. She's one of the handful of people that I tried to model myself after when I started singing," Osborne, 53, says by phone from a tour stop in Houston. "It's so great to be sharing a stage with her and getting to know her."

It's also something of a master class for Osborne, who the shows performing with Staples' band, then comes back on stage to "sing on a bunch of things Mavis Staples made famous" with her hero.

"There's a lot for me to take in from her," Osborne says. "Just her voice; the instrument she has has got such great tone, just that kind of depth and quality and just the wonderful way she uses her voice. I'm never going to sound exactly like Mavis Staples -- no one is -- but I think I've learned a lot about how to use my voice by following her example.

"And as a performer, she comes out on stage and just radiates this joy and this love and this acceptance of everyone in the room. She's just beaming, and it's just such a spiritual experience. It touches you to be in the presence someone who's so radiant like that, and that's something I try to remind myself to do. This is why we're here as performers, not to just bring sills and talents and all that but to use those in service of just radiating love to the audience and making it this really joyful experience."

It could be said that Osborne has been doing that for quite some time. Her debut album, 2005's "Relish" -- whose expanded 20th anniversary edition comes out Friday, Oct. 23 -- was a triple-platinum phenomenon that launched the provocative Top 5 hit "One Of Us." Osborne has released seven other albums since and also made a show-stealing appearance in the 2002 documentary "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" and is part of the Nashville band Trigger Hippy.

She's usually looking forward, but Osborne says that touring with Staples and having "Relish" turn 20 has given her pause to reflect, happily, on her career so far.

"It depends on what the day is how I feel about the passage of time, but I feel like all that stuff just happens rather than being planned or engineered, you know?" she explains. "The cool thing for me and for a lot of people who I talk to about ('Relish') is it's not one of those things that was so much of a moment in time that it feels dated. There are people who talk to me about how 'I got this record when it first came out and I'm still listening to it' or 'I'm handing it down to my kids and they listen.'

"In that sense its' gratifying. I feel like myself and my collaborators made something that was good enough to endure and still sound right and feel relevant 20 years later. That's special."

Mavis Staples and Joan Osborne

8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24.

Macomb Center for the Performing Arts, 44575 Garfield Road, Clinton Township.

Tickets are $40-$56.

Call 586-286-2222 or visit macombcenter.com.

Web Site: www.macombcenter.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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